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Diary of a Provincial Lady (The Provincial Lady #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  2,596 Ratings  ·  340 Reviews
When Diary of a Provincial Lady was first published in 1933, critics on both sides of the Atlantic greeted it with enthusiasm. This charming, delightful and extremely funny book was named by booksellers in England the o.p. novel most deserving of republication.
Hardcover, 201 pages
Published 1999 by Prion Books (first published 1930)
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Louise Culmer Yes, i enjoyed it. deborah devonshire had a lively, interesting style of writing, and a lot if interesting things happened to her in her long life.
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Susan
Apr 21, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although published in book form in 1934, the “Diary of a Provincial Lady,” started life in 1930 as a serial in “Time and Tide.” Largely autobiographical, Delafield substituted the names “Robin” and “Vicky” for her own children, called Lionel and Rosamund, but, aside from name changes, this is very much a light hearted diary of country life and based upon the author’s own experiences.

The Provincial Lady deals with domestic disasters, the W.I., a monosyllabic husband, mutinous staff and the bossy
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Jane
Mar 09, 2014 Jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I must admit that I have have been shy of meeting the Provincial Lady for such a long time.

You see she was so popular, I read so much praise for her wit and her charm, that I became the bookish equivilent of the shy child, who was so often tongue-tied and could never quite keep up with the leading lights.

I resisted a green Virago Modern Classics omnibus containg this book and its three sequels; I resisted a lovely anniversary edition clothed by Cath Kidson; but when a new Persephone edition appe
...more
Caroline
May 26, 2015 Caroline rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Kirsty
Shelves: novels
Written in 1930, this is a delightful romp through the joys and tribulations of a being an upper crust housewife in the country.

This book was very much based on the real life of its author. She had the right credentials for writing this story. As a teenager she was a debutante, then she married a colonel and had two children. She was also made president of her local Women’s Institute, and held this position for life. (This organisation is the ultimate custodian of country life in the UK.) On to
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Margaret
Delafield's marvelous Provincial Lady books are a series of journals written by a middle-class wife and mother, who is full of wit and literary aspirations but who is also tied down to her domestic duties; although she eventually achieves literary success, she still has to pull off a tricky balancing act between her professional and personal lives. A parade of notable characters, often based on Delafield's friends and family, inhabit the pages of the books: the diarist's husband Robert, stolid a ...more
Lyuda
Jul 03, 2016 Lyuda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: early-20-century
Dear Provincial Lady,

I would never know your name but your amusing and witty diary charmed and humored me. Your observations of life, people and happenings are clever, astute, insightful and remarkably revealing. I love your snarky voice as you recount your daily activities. They may not be earth shuttering or monumental in nature but they help me understand your life and time (1930s English village) so much better. Your diary is not filled with pompous musings or elegant language, but rather wi
...more
Pink
Oct 14, 2015 Pink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is me. At least if I was a 1930's English country wife. Lavishing my children, barely mentioning my husband and escaping to London or abroad whenever possible. Then there's juggling the finances, fobbing off the banks, trying to retain the cook and choosing which new hat to purchase. Screamingly funny, if you enjoy reading about an upper class lady trying to have it all, or at least muddle through.
Susan
3.5*
This book, written in the form of a journal, charts the day to day life of a 1930's wife and mother, not only juggling husband, children and her temperamental cook, but also trying to keep up with the many social obligations she finds herself faced with, whilst remaining cool, calm and collected.

It's a witty and amusing peep into how one woman copes with keeping up appearances, despite having a husband who is much more interested in his newspaper than her social dilemmas, as well as snobby a
...more
Eleanor
Apr 01, 2015 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, 2015-books
A light and delightful read after the seriousness of "The Master". The diary covers a year in the life of a married woman with two children living in an English village between the Wars. Lots of very amusing events and descriptions of life, but my favourite was in July when she received a letter from a close friend who was on holiday in the south of France and asking her to go there for a fortnight.

"I am moved to exclaim - perhaps rather thoughtlessly - that the most wonderful thing in the world
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Nigeyb
Mar 18, 2015 Nigeyb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Diary of a Provincial Lady is a charming, wry, satirical glimpse into the world of the upper-middle class in Devonshire, England in the late 1920s/early 1930s.

In 1929, the large-circulation feminist weekly magazine Time and Tide, wanted something light and readable, preferably in serial form, to fill the centre pages, and thus The Provincial Lady was born. Seemingly at once, E.M. Delafield discovered her true vocation was as a comic writer.

The book version was published in 1930, and The Dia
...more
Laura
Jun 23, 2015 Laura rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Bettie, Wanda
Recommended to Laura by: Gabriele Wills
From BBC Radio 4 - Book at Bedtime:
E M Delafield was great friends with Margaret Mackworth, 2nd Viscountess Rhondda, and became a director of Time and Tide magazine. When the editor "wanted some light 'middles', preferably in serial form, she promised to think of something". And so it was, in 1930, that her most popular and enduring work The Diary of a Provincial Lady was written. It has never been out of print.

The Diary of a Provincial Lady charts the day-to-day life of a Devonshire-dwelling la
...more
Leslie
Jan 13, 2016 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 I loved this -- in part because I like almost all the English satires of the period between the 2 World Wars. But this thinly disguised memoir wouldn't be the classic it is if it didn't contain commentary & queries about situations women face in other times & places. While problems with servants, lack of money (relatively speaking!), and the Women's Institute are not universal, who hasn't had the experience of someone saying something unpleasant, then "Think of several rather tart an ...more
Ali
Feb 15, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having treated myself to the new Persephone edition of Diary of a Provincial Lady I decided to re-read it right away. One of the things that sold me on the new edition (already owning an old Virago copy of the complete Provincial lady) was the lovely endpaper – which will remain one of my favourites.

Our eponymous Provincial Lady – is an upper middle class wife and mother – who records in her journal the daily vicissitudes of life. Married to the often taciturn Robert, mother to Robin and Vicky,
...more
Pixelina
Jan 04, 2015 Pixelina rated it it was ok
Shelves: bbc-radio, z2015-read
Can't help but compare this to Any Human Heart that I am listening to parallell to this. Both (right now) in England in pre-war and in journal format.
This seem like mindless chatter, somewhat fun and interesting just due to the time it portraits. But really nothing that I will remember a week from now.
While Any human heart, also a fabricated journal is so much fuller, richer.
How I wish Delafield would have shared something a little more personal, a little more of her human heart.
Paula
Oct 18, 2009 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: between-the-wars
British wit is good stuff. Comments about life are insightful, poignant and witty. Style of writing proves challenge as desire to learn more about character weighs heavily. (Query: do women such as this still exist, and if so, can I have a cup of tea with them on a frequent basis?)

See myself re-reading this and giving it higher ranking in future. Immediately post-read still feel a bit unsatisfied but perhaps that is sign of good author?
Sylvester
Mar 30, 2011 Sylvester rated it liked it
Shelves: humor
It's not that so much happens, it's that you get to hear this woman's inner thoughts - and they are fun-nee. Witty and funny. I usually detest diary-type novels, but this one is in a league of its own. And I learned something, too - life was hard before tissues were invented. One of the Provincial Lady's recurrent worries is that they are going to or have already run out of handkerchiefs - can you imagine? During cold season? Witha coupla kids in the house? Yikes! Thank.Heavens.For.Kleenex. Anyw ...more
Jennifer
Oct 13, 2012 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-classic, 2012
This is the kind of book that makes me wish I lived in Cornwall in 1933 with a couple of servants, a garden, the occasional charity sale to organize and friends to invite me to places I generally can't afford. Granted there are bills to pay with money I don't have (or only have for 5 seconds as it is already spent) and snooty upper class ladies to contend with but I think that - with my new best friend, the Provincial Lady (PL) by my side - we could manage very well indeed, thank you.

I found th
...more
Laura
Jun 11, 2008 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Supremely amusing account of a genteel English housewife between the wars. Her scattered, chatty, and often wry observations on her husband (perpetually hidden behind The Times), two children, nanny (“Mademoiselle”) and the line-up of village ladies provide most of the humor. Same sort of style as Bridget Jones’s Diary, only without the vulgarity and with a far more sympathetic heroine.
Larry Benjamin
Sep 05, 2015 Larry Benjamin rated it it was amazing
It was my great pleasure to read Diary of a Provincial Lady, I absolutely adored the Provincial Lady in questions. Her writing was wry, and witty without being self-conscious. Her spare, dead-on descriptions made the book an easy read and painted a perfect picture of her life and circumstances and the society in which she moved. Her casual, apt observances seem timeless. One particularly timeless observations stands out:

“Very marked difference between the sexes is male tendency to procrastinate
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QNPoohBear
The writer of this fictional diary is an upper-middle-class housewife in early 1930s rural England. She wryly observers the absurdities of her life for a whole year: trying to plant bulbs indoors in the fall; dealing with a temperamental cook and emotional French governess; a snobby aristocratic neighbor; precocious children (and how they measure up to other children); bank overdraft and occasional jaunts she really can't afford but desperately needs.

Her observations are somewhat humorous. They'
...more
Joanna
Apr 26, 2016 Joanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was fabulous. I love anything set in interwar-era England and the humor is exactly to my taste.

"Find myself indulging in rather melodramatic fantasy of Bentley crashing into enormous motor-bus and being splintered to atoms. Permit chauffeur to escape unharmed, but fate of Lady B. left uncertain, owing to ineradicable impression of earliest childhood to the effect that It is Wicked to wish for the Death of Another. Do not consider, however, that severe injuries, with possible disfigure
...more
Amy
Such a funny book in that dry British way. This was originally published in the 1930's - the story is written in the form of a diary of a middle-class housewife living in the English countryside. Strangely enough, this sort of reminded me of Bridget Jones' Diary (written 60 years earlier), although this one is about a married woman, not a single woman, and she doesn't really talk about her weight or her drinking...OK so maybe it's not very much like Bridget Jones (except they are both diaries of ...more
Austen to Zafón
Fictional diary of an upper-middle class lady living in a small English village between the wars, trying to keep up appearances on a too-small budget; manage her moody servants; and deal with high-spirited children, a flighty French governess, and a cold, bored husband. It doesn't sound like it should be funny, but it is, in that dry, deprecating, witty English way. As one reviewer said, "For its time, it's quite subversive, with the Provincial Lady chafing against the restrictions placed on her ...more
Nicole
Query: why is this book not better known? It seems to me that it should be read at least as much as Bridget Jones.

Despite the fact that it is tremendously funny, I was left at the end with a sense that our heroine's life was perhaps somewhat sad and lonely. Her husband seems decidedly unsatisfactory, and she appears to spend the bulk of her time editing out her true thoughts and self in the service of being civil and serving the needs of others. She does have friend Rose, but this seems like ver
...more
Katherine
Aug 09, 2016 Katherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Delightful, humorous diary of a country gentlewoman, circa 1930. The clipped writing style takes a little getting used to but it's more than worth the effort to experience this charming semi-biographical account.
Lauren
Feb 02, 2009 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone but if you are married with kids, it may seem funnier and ring a little more true
Shelves: best-of-2008
I adored this darkly witty take on British life in the country. Very Mapp and Lucia, in the best way, with the added delight of the diarist's asides on motherhood. I'm sorry it took me so long to find it but I think now was the perfect time to read it.

Also, sorry that there's no picture of the pretty edition I have - a Virago reprint with a Cath Kidston cover.
lucy by the sea
Jun 13, 2012 lucy by the sea rated it did not like it
Shelves: never-finished, novel
Don't get it. Boring diary of a boring rich lady. She moans about spending money on hats and hair. She bitches about her servants. She lets her husband treat her like crap. She carries on boring and meaningless and fakey friendships. Maybe it picks up and she redeems herself? I can't be bothered to finish it and find out.
Malia
Dec 14, 2015 Malia rated it it was amazing
What a lovely surprise! I really didn't know what to expect from this, but it very witty and entertaining. It centers around the life of a 'Provincial Lady' and her household and aquaintances. There is a fair bit of social criticism, but it is masked with humor and intelligent banter. It's an easy, quick read and well worth it.
Wealhtheow
Jul 30, 2007 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
Shelves: historical, humor
Very funny faux-diary of a genteel housewife in 1930’s rural England . Self-deprecating, witty, and very concerned with superficialities, it’s a fun read. It’s not dated so much as it is a historical document.
Elizabeth
Sep 05, 2015 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tbh, I didn't want this book to end. E. M. Delafield was taken from us far too young. A great shame. Will have to get hold of some of her earlier novels, methinks.
Jade F.
Jun 27, 2016 Jade F. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jade-s
Oh my. Where do I begin?
Should I start from the brilliant writing? Maybe the wit. No, better: her repulsion for idle chats and shallow people. E. M. Delafield is genius, fun, redemption for all of us made of the same dough: reading her we don't feel alone, or obnoxious anymore.

I couldn't put down her book; during all summer I restrained myself from reading too much of it, so to prolong my bliss. Gosh, how many times thoughts populated my mind in the same way. The same type of thoughts, even.

S
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Bright Young Things: May 2015- Diary of a Provincial Lady by EM Delafield 59 25 Aug 23, 2015 02:53PM  
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Edmée Elizabeth Monica Dashwood, née de la Pasture (9 June 1890 – 2 December 1943), commonly known as E. M. Delafield, was a prolific English author who is best-known for her largely autobiographical Diary of a Provincial Lady, which took the form of a journal of the life of an upper-middle class Englishwoman living mostly in a Devon village of the 1930s, and its sequels in which the Provincial La ...more
More about E.M. Delafield...

Other Books in the Series

The Provincial Lady (5 books)
  • The Provincial Lady in London
  • The Provincial Lady in America
  • The Provincial Lady in Wartime
  • The Diary of a Provincial Lady

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“She is never alone when she has Her Books. Books, to her, are Friends. Give her Shakespeare or Jane Austen, Meredith or Hardy, and she is Lost - lost in a world of her own. She sleeps so little that most of her nights are spent reading.” 33 likes
“Mucho antes de que estuviéramos a medio camino, y sabedora de que nunca llegaría a la roca, ya confiaba en que la segunda esposa de Robert fuera buena con los niños. La vizcondesa, que nadaba tranquilamente, me preguntó si estaba bien. "Oh, sí", contesté, y acto seguido me hundí.
(Duda: ¿Castigo divino?)”
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